Budget

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Following on from her review of Budget Planner in June, I have asked Sandra to review another financial package from Snowmint Creative Solutions.

Budget ($29.95) is a different way to keep track of your money and ensure you don´t overspend, based on the traditional ‘envelope’ model of allocating funds. It includes Budget Planner for longer term budget planning.

The model is based on the old system of taking a pay packet and dividing the cash into envelopes to pay future bills, buy food etc. Budget sets up virtual envelopes for known expense categories and allows you to allocate income between them. Cheques or payments are then made from these envelopes to pay bills eg. mortgage, or make purchases, and funds can also be transferred between envelopes as needed. In addition Budget can be used as an Account Manager to manage real checking and savings accounts and credit card transactions.

¨The real power of Budget is the ability to set up your budget plan in advance and preallocate future income deposits directly to your envelopes when you get paid. You’ll find it easy to stick to your budget when you pay your budget first.¨

Envelopes are displayed on the main screen so that at any time you can see the balances and click to enter an individual envelope and set up transactions.

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I found startup really easy. There is an manual option but I saw no reason not to use the Setup Assistance which guided me through the steps for setting up my budget data file, starting with my bank account and initial balance, and then my envelopes for my various expenses. Here there is a nice pull-down menu with lots of categories to chose from: clothes, mortgage etc. The next step asked me to distribute my current funds between these envelopes with any left over being put in a special envelope called “available”.

I could have stopped here but went onto the next stage to define my future income and allocate it against expenses, in effect setting up a forward looking budget. Again all very straightforward.

So at this point I had my personal display of envelopes similar to the one shown above, and then I could start to have fun checking out “spending” by setting up some transactions. This is done by clicking on an individual envelope or by using the icons at the top of the screen if you need to set up a “split” transaction across more than one envelope. Next, as my envelopes were getting a bit empty I decided to record some pay i.e. confirm that I had received it. As soon as I had done this the pay got distributed automatically between my envelopes as I had specified and they were looking healthy again!

You will have hopefully realised as I did that one of the strengths of Budget is that is encourages you to work only with money that you actually have! I actually had to do a re-think. When I have used software to budget before I have been happy to spend a whole quarter´s clothing allowance in the first month and allow myself to catch up! With Budget if there is no money in an envelope it will flag this and take the transaction from any funds in “available”. I found that it will also not allow your bank account to go into the red. I haven´t set up a credit card account yet which is a way round this but I actually think the approach is very positive in light of all the recent scary news stories about levels of debt. I can remember my parents dividing up their money using a big red book and we weren´t allowed to overspend, and my grandparents actually had money in envelopes put aside to pay specific bills.

So …. overall I liked Budget. The approach was interesting and it was pretty straightforward and fun to use. One or two of the menu options weren´t immediately obvious but being an experienced user of accounts packages I do expect to be able to just dive right in, and there is an extensive help section. One thing I did find was that it was important to check what envelope, bank account etc. you had hi-lighted on the front page as this effected options.

What Budget won´t allow you to do is setup a wish list expense for something you want and then work out how you are going to pay for it! But that is where Budget Planner comes in.

Features

  • New! Simplified Setup: Easier to use setup assistant with two levels of usage.
  • New! Dynamic Pay Options: See calculated pay allocations as you enter your expenses.
  • Bank Account Management: Record checks, debits, and deposits, and easily balance your checkbook.
  • QIF Import: Convert data from other applications, or download your transactions from a bank.
  • Reminders: Repeating transactions such as monthly bills can be set up as reminders.
  • iCal Integration: See your upcoming transactions in an iCal calendar.
  • Define Pay Sources: Set up your income to automatically distribute funds to various envelopes.
  • Savings and Investments: Manage your savings accounts and track your investment portfolio.
  • Print Checks: Print personal or business checks, including an image of your signature, on any printer.
  • New! Streamlined Help Topics: New getting started section with more examples and screenshots.
  • Automatic Backup: Keeps a copy of your last data file.
  • Credit Cards: Track your credit card spending, and stay out of debt.
  • Currency Conversion: Convert amounts between more than 50 currencies.
  • Reports and Statistics: See how well you are keeping within your budget.
  • Powerful Search Capability: Find any transaction using a combination of different criteria.
  • Spring-Loaded Envelopes: Using drag and drop to transfer money, group envelopes will spring open.
  • Pay/Deposit Rules: Prioritize and distribute pays or deposits to envelopes using a powerful rule based system.
  • Long-term Planner: Get ready to pay for college, buy a new car, or retire to your dream life.

On the Other Hand

There are more than few types of insurance, i.e. health insurance or insurance rental cars, when getting quotes on rental insurance; you must be very cautious fro fraudulent people. Vacation rental insurance offers viable vacation insurance for young travelers or trip cancellation. mortgage insurance quotes are also available. It also helps those in search of consolidation loan.

Credit Card Resource

Sometimes credit card applications and keeping track of budget expenses can be extremely complicated. Whether you are working with  special business credit cards or your own personal gas cards it can be tough to juggle finances. Make sure you do credit research and get the best deal.

9 thoughts on “Budget

  1. Jonathan Buckland

    This was just the application I was looking for. Thanks for the review Sandra. Now I’m going to truly see how much I spend on Mac products.

  2. Dunks

    Now this looks interesting. We are currently doing up a property and need to save for materials and architects/planning permission etc. This looks as if it may have a lot of potential.

  3. Chris Marshall Post author

    A quick update. While the default isn’t to allow you to go into debt, it is an option to set the preferences that way:

    Select the account and click the Info button, then click the Settings tab and check the box next to “Allow bank account to go negative”

  4. Wayne LeFevre

    You have a link to Budget Planner, but not this one, Budget! Was going to check it out. Maybe it’s just me and I’m missing something easy…

  5. Wayne LeFevre

    OK. My bad. Had I just read a little slower and more carefully I would have realized they are from the same company!

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